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What is NFC?

A lady uses a phone to access a NFC secure area


A Near Field Communication chip is a silicon component with an integrated circuit. It enables short-range wireless communication between two devices for a number of uses. 

What can NFC be used for?  

1- Paying- you should have noticed the deployment of NFC technology when paying for things on a card terminal or on public transport such as buses and the underground. Hold your card near to the card reader and the payment goes through like magic. No card swipe and signature, no chip and pin. Nearly all retailers were using this technology even before the onset of Covid19- but banks and shops all responded to the social distancing challenges by raising the NFC limit from £30 to £45.  

2- Secure entry- most companies have been using NFC security fobs to manage access to their office premises for years. Give an employee a card they keep in a lanyard or a fob which they attach to their keys, they touch it to the door and get secure access to the building. NFC technology is also rolling out across home security systems and vehicle entry as physical keys are having fewer and fewer applications. 

These are the two most common and universally understood applications of NFC technology but there are many other nifty uses which may nestle perfectly amongst your marketing goals. 

3- Attendance tracking- NFC tags are often used in ID cards and badges for attendance tracking and record keeping. If you’re hosting an event then you might want to follow it up with further correspondence. Automated email campaigns after the show can thank attendees for coming and carry on the marketing message, whilst a separate campaign for the no shows can help book in for the next event you’re putting on.  

4- Instant WiFi connection- we've seen quite a few restaurants including NFC chips in their menus for customers to simply hold their phone near and their phone automatically opens the WiFi settings, puts in a password and connects to the WiFi. A browser is also launched so it’s the perfect place for a unique landing page to promote your latest offerings.  

5- Launch browser app, direct traffic straight to a site/ video- this has great potential for merchandise goods. Imagine a branded piece of merchandise like a luxury pen or a high-end drinks bottle, they’re handed out at a conference but they also include an NFC chip with extra call to actions. So not only is your brand getting additional exposure but your message is also delivered straight to the end user, you can even programme the chips with your direct contact details.  

6- Alarm- this isn’t exactly helpful for marketing but we just thought it was cool. People have been installing NFC chip strips on their bedroom doors and setting alarms in the morning which can only be deactivated by the chip. Forcing you out of the bed in the morning to stop the alarm is another imaginative use for this technology.  

How does NFC work? 

To transmit data using NFC technology you need two NFC enabled devices: a transmitting device and a receiving device.  

An example of this would be an NFC tag/sticker, and a smartphone. In the case of an NFC tag and a smartphone, the tag is a passive device which only transmits the data and cannot receive it. The smartphone however is an active NFC device capable of both receiving the signals from the tag and also transmitting the data to other NFC enabled smartphones. 

While a Bluetooth device works in the same way, what makes NFC unique is the fact that it does not require device pairing and permission to transmit data. All you have to do for receiving information or making payment is to tap the transmitting device with an NFC compatible smartphone. 

NFC chips as business cards 

One of the best applications we have seen of NFC technology has been including a chip within your business cards. As the chips themselves tend to cost around £1 and the cost of business cards is at this price or much lower, it’s possible to order hundreds of them for a pretty reasonable price. You can give them away as normal to important contacts or set one up on your trade show stand and tell people to hold their phone near it and watch them receive all of your contact details as easy as pie. If you’re running low then you can keep one for yourself and just have people scan it when they see you, seriously cool! 


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